American Government and Politics

Huntington, Janowitz, or None of the Above? Conceptions of Professional Norms by Future Army Officers

Risa Brooks Marquette University
Michael Robinson Author ORCID home | opens in new tab United States Military Academy
Heidi Urben Georgetown University


Through a survey of 1,470 cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, we measure the strength of civil-military norms in the midst of their socialization to civil-military values. In addition, we use an embedded list experiment to measure true preferences to controversial questions in civil-military affairs, such as competing loyalties to democratic governance. To analyze cadet adherence to norms we first articulate a framework of various conceptions of professionalism. While cadets do not exhibit adherence to one particular framework, we find limited adherence to a purist Huntington model, and more of a conflicted reading of Huntington, as well as selectivity and superficiality in their commitment to norms, largely driven by their own partisan preferences. Lastly, we find concerning evidence that a significant number of cadets prioritize following orders over upholding democratic traditions, justifying Janowitz’s concerns that a military separate from society could breed attitudes among military personnel antithetical to democracy.

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